The birth of the internet has opened up so many opportunities for everyone. But as time passed, that privilege was also taken advantage by predators and other evil forces. Suddenly, online safety has become a touchy topic for users and developers.
There are aspects of online safety that we have no control over, but there are those we can do to keep ourselves safe online.
Developers and producers are responsible for technological functions online. The least they could do is create security and privacy features, but they’re not in the position to automatically impose it. The tricky thing with these developers is we’ll never know what they’ll do with our data. Plus, they will let us agree to terms and conditions and privacy notice that just sounds like they’re keeping their hands clean to whatever would happen to our data in the future.
We, as users, on the other hand, have a lot of things to cover to keep our data private and our identities secured. From tinkering privacy settings to being vigilant on what we post, share, or fill out online.
But what if it’s our children who want to go online? Can we keep them safe?
We want to keep children away from the internet as much as possible. But we can’t keep them away from it for too long. As parents, are you ready to let them dive into the tricky online world?
Here are a few tips that you can do to keep your children safe online.
Familiarize and Utilize
The first thing you should do to battle online threats against your children is to familiarize the different social media platforms.
Each platform has its unique features and functionality. Your knowledge on each platform is also your weapon against online predators and other risks that come with using social media. When you know how each platform works, you know the ins and outs of each of them, their strengths and vulnerabilities. Then, you’ll know how to battle them.
Here are a few things you can do:
Know your way around social media.
Familiarize each social media platform. Know what are their functions and how to do it. If you can, discover how your children can both create and consume its content.
Check privacy settings.
Look into the platform’s privacy settings. These are your allies in keeping you as safe as possible especially on what he posts and shares.
Turn off GPS or Location features.
Make sure to turn off all GPS or location features. Aside from GPS access and permission in every social networking site, also check your location settings in your computer.
Two-way authentication and security alerts.
Keep your child’s account secure and learn about two-way authentication. Make yourself (either your email or Facebook account) the emergency or alternative email contact for your child’s account. At least, if the account would be compromised, you’ll be notified.
Do Online Safety ‘Talk’
Once you know how each social media platform works, it’s time to do the talk.
Sit down with your children and discuss some important points before you allow them to go online. There’s a lot to cover on this one, so make sure your children are ready for a lengthy yet informative talk. Make the environment comfortable and talk earnestly and in a language that both you and your children would understand.
Here are some important notes to cover when talking about online safety with your kids:
Talk about the dangers.
Let them understand that while going online seems to be fun, there could be dangers. Predators could be lurking anywhere and even the very social media platform they’re using has its own disadvantages. Help them understand that these are possible and how they could possibly keep themselves away from trouble.
Bullying and other cyber crimes.
Remind your children that there could be bullies online. Anonymity can make any coward so brave to attack just about anyone. So it’s best to let them be aware that this could happen and ask if they are ready to face this. Aside from bullying, give them a heads-up on other crimes that could happen online such as trafficking, pedophilia, fraud, and extortion. Most importantly, let them know that they have an option to stay out of social media if they’re not ready for it.
Social media behavior.
If they are sure they want to create their own online presence and identity, then give them some tips on how to behave online especially on social media interactions. Since you have already discussed bullying, etc., it would be easier to let them understand to not contribute to the dangers online. Instead, make them realize that they can help create a safe place online.
Now that all the talk is in place, it is now your duty as a parent to create a safe environment for your children. This ‘safe environment’ can be made both online and offline.
Have a common computer.
It is best to have a common computer to use with your children rather than giving them their own gadget. That way, you can prep your computer for their use and monitor their online behavior more closely.
Place computer in a central, open space.
Placing your common computer at a certain ‘center’ of your home is also helpful. It’s better to see what they’re doing and take a glance at it from time to time. In case you can sense trouble, you can jump in any time.
Use firewalls and filters.
Firewalls, filters, anti-virus, and malware – use them all. Make sure to block any predatory sites that you know. It also won’t harm you if you look for references online on which sites to block.
Set the Rules
Now, just a few kinks to iron before you allow them to go online. Set some rules with their internet use. It sounds like you’re the boring parent that way, but set some boundaries with your children. Here are a few rules you can set:
As suggested, use one common computer. Keep them out and away from other gadgets; don’t buy them their own, either.
Set a time or schedule.
Another limit you can set is the amount of time they go online. Create a schedule in a day as to what time they’d be allowed to access at the same time, agree on just how long they can stay online.
Know their routine.
This could be asked from them right away, or you could observe the things they often do online. Know their routine, the social media platforms they’re in, and how often they go there.
Tell them what not to post.
Remind your children on what not to post online especially personal information, location, and not too much selfies. Also, remind them of online check-ins and avoid them as much as possible.
Create caution on online surveys, games, trivia, or anything that offer freebies.
These are things that would just pop out of the screen that your children might just click away; especially if there are freebies involved. Tell them not to click any of this as much as possible so they won’t be a victim of fraud.
A Balance on Monitoring and Privacy
All is set. Your kid is now online and you have done what you could to prepare them for the online world.
As a parent, you can continue to keep an eye on your children and keep them at bay. You can keep monitoring them but, at the same time, earn their trust that you’re not snooping around too much.
Communication is key.
Always talk to your children. Ask them how it’s been for them since they went online. Talk about the things that they seem to be interested lately online. That way, you can get hints of whatever he is experiencing and probably notice red flags.
Be friends or follow your kids.
Ask your child’s consent to be friends with them or follow them online. It’s the easiest way to keep posted on what they do online. If you notice something off, you can easily talk to your kids and point out evidence or instance.
Monitor their account regularly.
The last thing you would want to do is to monitor their accounts regularly. You can do this once a month. Since you have access to their account, try to check their accounts especially the private messages. You don’t have to read everything – that’s just wrong. Just look for something suspicious from the senders or their exchange of messages.
Once you do all these, you can have a bit of peace of mind. You have done what you could and hope for the best that you have indeed kept your children safe from online predators.
Just make sure you keep yourself updated with the latest online dangers and how they are going to affect your children. Inform your children about it to also keep them aware. After all, online safety is an everyday thing; not just one-time or something that’s passing.
And when your kids are old enough, they’ll surely take note of how you kept them safe and can tread on by themselves with caution.